Thursday, July 31, 2014

Component of the Month REVEAL! (July 2014 Edition)

This is the only the second time I've hosted the monthly component challenge, and - if I'm being really honest - I've been very, very nervous both times. I am not really a component maker per se; I make most of my own components, but I don't make them to sell individually, so the things I make are for my own use. The other ladies here at Art Jewelry Elements make such beautiful components are are so PROLIFIC about it (seriously) that I felt very... well, I guess "intimidated" isn't too strong a word. So I screwed up my courage and prepared a bunch of glass cabochons for folks to play with.

Today's the day everyone posts what they made... and I'm more than a little excited to see their creations! (With so many members of the AJE team getting ready for BeadFest, I was especially grateful that several of them took time to do the component challenge this month.) Join me in checking them out - and be sure to leave a comment letting them know what you thought! (And psssstt: my post includes a kind of big announcement - for me, anyway! - that's directly related to this month's challenge!)

Guest Designers

Carol Briody -

The AJE Team

Caroline Dewison -

Susan Kennedy -

Melissa Meman -

Jenny Davies-Reazor -

Francesca Watson (yours truly!) -

Until next time - 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Writing beadweaving tutorials.

Oh the pain.  Literally the pain.  I love when I am inspired by an artist component to design something new.  Like this piece inspired by Sheri Mallery's heart pendant.

Or this one inspired by Karen's donut pendant.

Or this one inspired by Jenny's mermaid link.

And the most recent design using one of Francesca's pendant (cant show that one til tomorrow.)

But....... actually sitting down and writing a tutorial is so much harder.

First you have to have a clean space to use to photograph your steps.  And that in itself can be a challenge in my ADD world.  (see messy tray pic)

And what I mean by photographing steps is that you take a picture of every time you pass the thread through a bead or group of beads.  But....and here is the kicker each pic has to be clear.  So add the bead(s), take a picture or two then up load it to make sure each bead is clear and the thread path is showing properly.  For each step of a tutorial there are usually 2 to 3 pictures to show thread path.  Now I know there are programs out there that are used to draw diagrams of each bead but the kicker to that one is that generally you have to literally draw them yourself and well I am not that steady of hand nor do I have the computer to handle that program.  So this is how I do it.

But that is not all.  Putting words to the steps is a challenge as well.  So as not to confuse a beader there needs to be a general consistency with other written tutorials using the same wording.  Such as pass through, beginning round and so forth.  That takes research and knowledge.

Here is why I tell you this.  This is my newest Tutorial, Triangulation.

It is designed to be a weekend project.  It took me a week worth of work (not all at once because I have a house to keep in order) 28 out of 46 photos were actually used but all 46 were edited. It has 12 steps that were edited and re edited to ensure clarity and oh I totally forgot you need an accurate count of all the supplies you needed.  That is no easy task at all I am not good at measuring grams.

Then there is the fact that you have to make at least a second piece following your own steps just to make sure it can be done.  Another round of pictures of the finished pieces to see what is best for the cover and Etsy, then it is off to the testers and proofreaders.  With fingers crossed of course.  If all goes well you have a finished tutorial ready to list in your shop.

So the next time you look at a tutorial I hope I have given you a new appreciation to what goes into them because I know I do.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tattooed Mice

Don't worry - no animals were harmed in the writing of this post!

You may remember a few months ago Caroline wrote a post about china painting as a way of decorating glazed ceramic. I knew I wanted to give this a go and went straight on line and bought a selection of paints which come in these adorable tiny jars...they've been sitting in a cupboard ever since!

Well yesterday I finally got around to using them. I'd made some little mouse charms and unusually for me glazed them in pastel shades which I felt needed jazzing up a bit. They have little tails on one side but I thought maybe a little tattoo on the other cheek might look cute.

Rather stupidly I forgot to take a photo of me working with the paints but you can find more about the process on Caroline's post. Basically you mix the finely powdered paint with a medium - either a commercial one or an improvised one as I did - I used 7UP. Then it's 'simply' a case of painting on your chosen design. Actually I found it anything but simple - I'm not good at small detail and it's very difficult to hold onto and paint on a tiny object with curved surfaces even with the simplistic designs I was trying to achieve. Needless to say there was frequent dropping, cleaning and starting again.

But I persevered and eventually ended up with all my meeces sporting a little heart or flower tattoos and ready for firing...

Compared to glaze firing this is a pretty quick process whereby you fire the kiln straight up to 700ºc and then let it cool straight back down. This is how they finished up.

I'm not entirely happy with them as I think they're a bit untidy. What I should have done is practice on an old plate or tile first to get a feel for the paints but when did I ever do anything that sensible? I'm sure I'll improve with practice though - even if I do have to decorate all my table china to do it!


The Gossiping goddess

Saturday, July 26, 2014

August Component of the Month and Giveaway!

Hey everyone! It's time for another Component of the Month giveaway! Our CoM is such a fun challenge and I'm so excited to be hosting for August.

So, what's up for grabs this time? My newest obsession—my handpainted leather feathers!

Each one is carefully cut in soft leather suede, burned, and painted in acrylics.

I make them in mirrored earring pairs…

… and longer single feathers.

So, for August's CoM I'm letting you choose between an earring pair or a single focal feather.

Earring pair feathers are each about 3 inches (7.62cm) long.

And the singles are about 4 7/16 inches (11 cm) long.

I'm giving away 3 pairs or singles (your choice!) to 3 lucky guests!

Want to play along? Here are the rules…

  • I will giveaway 1 feather pair OR 1 single feather of your choice to each of 3 winners selected randomly from those who leave comments below this post. Your comment must included your EMAIL address so we can contact you should you win.
  • Please — only leave a comment if you can commit to creating a finished piece and blogging about it on the reveal date.
  • The names of the 3 winners will be announced on Wednesday, July 30, 2014.
  • This giveaway is open to US and international countries, but please be aware that international addresses will have longer postage times… sometimes up to 3 weeks.
  • The blog reveal will take place on Sunday, August 31, 2014.
Good luck!

Rebekah Payne

Friday, July 25, 2014

Freeform Friday: Majolica!

Majolica -
In one word, one style there is so much history culture and tradition...

In my next pair of posts I would like to dazzle you with pictures, place Majolica in art/ceramics history, and show you how I am applying it to a series of pendants and charms. Ready? Cool...

Majolica is a tin glazed pottery - which translates as a colored earthenware clay body, with an opaque white (tin-based) glaze. Decorations are painted on top of the white glaze...
"Tin-glazed pottery is pottery covered in glaze containing tin oxide which is white, shiny and opaque. The pottery body is usually made of red or buff colored earthenware and the white glaze was often used to imitate Chinese porcelain. Tin-glazed pottery is usually decorated, the decoration applied to the unfired glaze surface by brush as metallic oxides... The makers of Italian tin-glazed pottery from the late Renaissance blended oxides to produce detailed and realistic polychrome paintings.

The earliest tin-glazed pottery appears to have been made in Iraq in the 9th century... From there it spread to Egypt, Persia and Spain before reaching Italy in the Renaissance, Holland in the 16th century and England, France and other European countries shortly after." (Thanks Wiki)

1. Dish with bird, in Islamic-derived style, Orvieto, ca.1270-1330
2. A Hispano-Moresque dish, with Christian monogram "IHS", . Valencia, c.1430-1500.

3.Iznik dish - British Museum. Dated 1540-1550.
4. Persian Pottery from the city Isfahan, 17th century.

Tracing its history is an amazing cultural trek across the Medieval landscape. And I love that kind of thing... Persian pottery ---- Islamic Moorish Spain---Renaissance Italy---then a jump to the left  (Is the Time Warp playing in your head now?) and into Victorian England where they really change it up... It's Maiolica in Italy. It's Faience in France. It's talavera in Mexico... I can't get enough!
1. An albarello (drug jar) from Venice or Castel Durante, 16th century. Approx 30cm high
2.  plate depicting the birth of Venus, by Francesco Xanto Avelli of Rovigo, 1533
3. Coppa amatoria depicting Elena Bella, majolica, from Castel Durante, Urbino, c. 1540–50
storiato decoration on a plate fromCastel Durante, c.1550-1570

1. detail of plate by William de Morgan Victorian era/late 1800's
2. G Jones majolica quail game tureen 
3. from Pinterest... sorry no details.
4. 19thc Victorian French Majolica Palissy Ware. Pike Fish Platter
And the modern contemporary era? Yes, many current potters are still using the age-old techniques in new ways, with modern aesthetic sensibilities! 
1&3 - Posey Bacopoulos
2 &4 - Linda Arbuckle

Are your eyes dazzled yet? Do you want to time travel to the Middle Ages and serve an apprenticeship? ( I do, but I'm an art history geek like that...)

Majolica isn't for everyone. Some pieces is so over the top, so ornate, so colorful. Embellished to a crazy place. But, you ask... where is the connection to Art Jewelry? 

Let me leave you with a teaser for my next post in 2 weeks. I have majolica pieces in progress - pendants and charms. These are part of the all-encompassing countdown to Beadfest. Stay tuned in 2 weeks - to see the results. I promise to post them - whether they are good, bad, ugly, or over embellished! 

Until then - have a colorful weekend.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making your mark

I've finally got back to making, I'm still waiting for power and water in there, but I'm not going to let that stop me. Not getting my hands dirty for over a month has been testing!

The studio is looking a bit more lived in now, especially as the kids have claimed half the table as their own. We hadn't even got the roof on and there was lego in it!

I've started off with making lots of my usual beads... birds, urchins, houses etc. I have a show coming up, so wanted to get those out of the way before the fun started and I get completely sidetracked!

It was while I was making some house charms that I got thinking about speeding up production. I like to put my initials on the bottom of some of my unique designs, but writing each one on takes time and they all end up different. I decided I needed a little stamp! There are lots of places you can send off for custom stamps, but being impatient I decided to make my own. I've taken pics as I went along to show how you can make one for yourself.

The tools you need are some soft cut lino, lino cutters (I got this nifty little kit where everything is contained within a stamp) tracing paper, (I use baking paper), a scalpel, scissors, a pencil and a biro.

Start by drawing around the end of your pencil on to the lino.

Take your tracing paper and trace the circle.

Draw your initials on to the tracing paper inside the circle.

Scribble over the initials with pencil, and place the tracing paper scribble side down on to the circle you drew previously on the lino. You need to trace your initials in reverse so that when you stamp they mark the clay the right way round.

Trace over the initials so that the image is transferred on to the lino.

Remove the surrounding lino with your cutting tools. Looking back at this, I think I would have got a sharper design if I'd cut around the edge of the image first with my scalpel, I will do that next time!

With scissors cut around the circle to remove the design from the sheet.

Glue the stamp on to the end of your pencil and leave to dry.

Test :) If the design isn't as sharp as you'd like, carefully trim it with the scalpel. Here's a picture of the final stamp with my scruffy finger for scale.

Now it's ready to use to make your mark and identify your work!


Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I always like to encourage people to try new things when it comes to their jewelry.  In the short time I've been teaching myself chain maille, I've noticed that many maillers are purists or typically only include metal or crystal beads in their work.  I also see that there aren't many art bead enthusiasts using chain maille.  If you are curious about giving it a try then start with Byzantine weave.  It looks complicated but it's actually pretty easy!  

You can find a free tutorial for Byzantine weave over at The Ring Lord by clicking here.

Earrings are a quick and easy way to start when incorporating chain maille into your work.  I've made a couple of pairs recently.

These stoneware seashell charms are paired with Byzantine links made from turquoise and brown anodized aluminum rings.  I created them for the Bead Cruise Jewelry Inspiration Challenge that I hosted over the weekend on Facebook.
I made these cuties a few days ago.  They feature enameled frog charms from Gardanne Beads, my own aqua-glazed stoneware beads and half a Byzantine weave link out of green and brown anodized aluminum rings.  See, you don't even have to use a full link to incorporate some chain maille in your work!
I also have these fiery Byzantine links ready to go.  I want to pair them with a smaller, porcelain version of my chili pepper charms similar to these stoneware ones...

I hope these inspire you to give chain maille with art beads a try!

Happy Beading!

Diana P.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

These Are A Few Of My Favorite...Tools!

We all have our favorite tools when we make our beads or jewelry and I thought I'd show you a few of mine!

The first one is a Bead Roller by Donna Felkner - I have several of them, but I really love this shape, it's called baroque. 
 I used it to make this really cool bead here!  I should have a few of these available at Bead Fest in August!

 Next are metal stainless steel chop sticks.  I got this hint from Sage Holland when I took an intensive glass class with her several years ago.  They are cheap and they work great for pulling twisties.  You can get them from kitchen shops online.  See how mine are burned at the end?  That's the only problem with these, after you use them for a while they burn out on the ends.  But they are so cheap it's not a big deal.
 Next is my rod holder by Graceful Customs.  She makes some great tools, and I don't know what I did without these for years!
 They are so perfect for holding shorts, so you don't waste glass!

 Next is my Magic Wand by Corina Tettinger.  She doesn't always have tools available, you kind of have to jump on it when she announces she has some!  It can do many things, I mainly use it for tapping down murrini or making grooves for pumpkin beads!
 I'm hoping to be able to get around to making some of these pumpkin beads for Bead Fest as well, but with so many beads in my head, I may not be able to.

 Finally, a bead press I got from Leonardo Lampwork.  I actually have several of these but this is my favorite one, the swirl.
I have some awesome new focals and sets to introduce at Bead Fest using this tool, but you'll have to wait til my next post to see them!!!!

What are your favorite tools for working in your medium? Some of these can be used for other mediums, as well!

Susan Kennedy
SueBeads Etsy Store
SueBeads Web Store

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dahlia Pendant and Ribbon Tutorial

Back in March, Monique of A Half Baked Notion designed a necklace using some fossilized coral that she had purchased from one of my destash sales.  I was intrigued by the hand dyed, tubular viscose ribbon she used in her necklace.  It came from a shop called Colour Complements on Etsy.  So I made an inquiry about the ribbon, with the shop owner, Lorraine.  Lorraine was kind enough to send me a sample of her hand-dyed ribbon to try out.

Isn't it beautiful?  I loved the luscious colors and I envisioned threading wire through the center of the tubular ribbon and then wire wrapping it.   Upon receiving the ribbon, I realized that I had the perfect match for it, in a ceramic flower pendant that I had received from Marla James of Marla's Mud.
Marla's pendant reminds me of the dahlias that are blooming in our front yard now.  So I've called today's tutorial the Dahlia Ribbon Pendant.
Here's what you will need:
  • Approximately 6 inches of 20 gauge wire (length will vary depending on the size of the pendant you are using)
  • 7 inches of  hand-dyed tubular viscose ribbon, plus 9 inches more, if you want to add a bow above your pendant
  • A pendant of your choice that has a hole large enough to accommodate the ribbon.
  • Cutters
  • Flat nose or chain nose pliers
  • Round nose pliers
  • Scissors
1.  Make sure that both ends of your wire are flush cut.  Sand them so they are as smooth as possible. The smoother the ends are, the less they will snag on the ribbon and the easier it will be for you to thread the wire into the ribbon tube. 

2.  Find the opening in the tubular ribbon.
3.  Carefully and gently thread the wire into the ribbon tube.  This is a little tedious, so go slowly and be patient.  Its only a short length of ribbon, so it won't take long, unless you try to force it.
3.  Scrunch the ribbon together, so it all fits on your wire, with bare wire on either end.
4.  Decide which end of the wired ribbon you want to face forward and then carefully thread your pendant onto the wired ribbon. 
5.  Gently curve the wire up around your pendant.  Make sure you leave enough room above the pendant so the pendant can move a bit.
6.  Make a wrapped loop above the pendant.
7.  If you would like to have a bow on your pendant, tie it over the wire  wraps.  You may want to add an small, inconspicuous touch of glue to the bow, so it does not come untied.

8.  Make another wrapped loop above this, to form the bail.  

9.  Create a necklace, or simply string your pendant on leather or chain.
After taking these pictures, I decided that I liked my pendant better without the bow and I removed it.  I don't have a photos of it without the bow, but I liked the simpler version better.
The tubular viscose ribbon adds a soft touch to the necklace.  It also adds an interesting texture and a pop of color.  I hope you will give it a try and post links to your creations here or on the AJE Facebook page.  You know how much we'd love to see what what you create!